Marshall ISD trustees on Monday heard a state of the district update from Marshall ISD Superintendent Jerry Gibson, who told the trustees the district has a clear direction and plan to move student learning forward to the next level.
“When I came here in 2016, this was a district with no vision and little direction but there was hope,” Gibson told trustees during an address on Monday. “There was more that united us than divided us and we all wanted the best for our students.”
Now, three years later, Gibson said the district has made clear improvements and though there is still work to be done, the district has a transparent and effective plan that is easily communicated to both employees and community members.
“The last few years, what has happened is that a lot of people have done a lot of hard work,” he said. “We drew a line in the sand and said we will only accept the best for our students. We wanted to create a culture of greatness.”
Gibson said the district outlined three major ways to create that culture of greatness.
“We had to build a winning team,” he said. “That is the most important thing a leader can do because a culture drives behavior, behavior drives habits and habits create the future.”
First, Gibson said the district hired the right people for the right positions, then trained and coached them to do their jobs in the best way possible.
Second, he said the district adopted a positive outlook and lastly, it worked on its communication, not only between district personnel but with community members as well.
“We had to learn the meaning of non-negotiables and then introduced our non-negotiables district-wide,” Gibson said.
The six non-negotiables habits or actions for the district were: power walks from administrators, Professional Learning Communities on all campuses, Data Rooms on all campuses, Reflective Practice Models, Small Group instruction and customer service.
Gibson then updated the trustees on the district’s demographics, which showed about 38 percent of the students enrolled are Hispanic, about 36 percent are black, about 22 percent are white and about 4 percent are Asian, American Indian, Pacific Islander or more than two races.
“About 39 percent of our students ride the bus to and from school every day,” Gibson said. “That’s 2,076 students.”
Gibson also reminded the trustees of the progress made at the district’s now Marshall Early Childhood Center, formerly Washington Early Childhood Center.
The MECC now includes a Learning by Doing curriculum, Lil Mav Academy Day School, a full day pre-kindergarten and they are piloting a two way English/Spanish curriculum.
Gibson said 124 students are enrolled in the Maverick University program to take dual credit college courses and the district dropped from having six “improvement required” rated campuses in 2016 to no improvement required rated campuses in 2019.
Gibson said the district is now focusing on its teacher turnover rate, which is about double the state average. The district currently has about a 30 percent teacher turnover rate, compared to the state average of about 16 percent.
Gibson also wants the district to focus on deferred maintenance for its facility upkeep and continue its current preventative maintenance program.
He outlined about $1.9 million in facility work to be completed in this 2019-20 school year, including about $146,000 spent on lighting at the softball complex to be completed by White Electric. The work will carry a 25 year warranty.
Other facility work planned in the coming years at the district is exterior and interior lights at the high school, as well as removal of old lockers and a parking lot resurface. He also wants the high school gym stands to be replaced and the dance room to be relocated, as well as the ceiling tiles replaced.
Security fencing at Sam Houston Elementary School is on the list, as well as cell phone boosters and GPS installation on district buses and a parking lot resurfacing at MECC.
Further down the road, Gibson would like to see the construction of a new Ag barn on the high school campus, as well as paneling restoration at the high school.
“It is important as a district that we get aggressive doing these things over the next two to three years,” he said.
He also said he wants to focus on hiring bilingual teachers and creating a competitive compensation plan that will keep teachers on board.
Gibson also wants to work on transparency with the community and parents and said the district is currently working on a video to be released in the spring that details the positive things happening at the district.
“That’s going to tell our story and let people see the good things going on at Marshall ISD,” he said.